Invent the Track if You Must

Rockingham, North Carolina (Monte Dutton photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, April 7, 2017, 9:45 a.m.

A new novel’s out. It’s the one readers have been suggesting – hint, hint – I write for years. I’m hardheaded. I had to wait until it struck my fancy. It takes a story to write a novel, and it’s too damned hard to write one for which I have no love.

By Monte Dutton

Eventually, Barrie Jarman came along. I wish he’d been real when I was writing about stock-car racing week after week and airport after airport. For a writer, though, he’s probably too good to be true. That’s probably a reason to fiction. I needed to know someone like Barrie, so I invented him, and I didn’t even use a Playstation. Or a Wii. Or whatever they have now.

I don’t know why Barrie showed up. It could be that, after four years away, I began pining for the occasional trip back to the track. I put out a few overtures: “William Tell,” “The Ruins of Athens,” “The Merry Widow.” A few expressed interest and offered discount subscriptions to websites and the like. I haven’t called them. I hoped they’d call me.

As a stock car racing beat reporter, I’m a known commodity. If anyone wanted me – besides, at present, the Competition Plus website — I’d know it.

I can’t figure out whether journalism died or just became dead to me.

Well, back to the plot at hand.

Lightning in a Bottle may have occurred to me because stock car racing was occurring to me at the time, and when nothing to do occurred, I subconsciously, in a Freudian state, started writing a novel about stock car racing. I started writing it on January 15 and it was available to the public via the miracle of Amazon.com and CreateSpace on March 29.

Sales have started to pick up. Word is getting around. If enough people read it – I’m just getting word from a few who have finished it – it’s going to be a sensation. Some are going to be inspired. Some are going to be amused. Some are going to be infuriated. I expect some are going to be privately amused while publicly infuriated.

All possibilities are within the righteous realm of a free society. One must accept the consequences if he expects to reap the rewards.

As my late father used to say, “Son, don’t do nothing half-assed,” though, in fact, he did quite a few things that way. He wanted his older son to do better. His younger son already was. My dad didn’t care if I could write a lovely paragraph. He wanted me to play ball better.

I made it up to him later by writing about people who played ball better.

(Cover design by Steven Novak)

Since I read the Kindle version and breathed a sigh of relief, I’ve been either wasting my time doing nothing or trying like hell to jumpstart Lightning in a Bottle. One man’s tweet is another’s promotion. The day before yesterday, I wrote 3,000-plus words of new fiction, but mainly I’ve been firing off blurbs like:

“Even if you’re running neck-and-neck with somebody for 5th place, it’s still fun.” #fiction #motorsports https://www.amazon.com/Lightning-Bottle-Monte-Dutton/dp/1544840306/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Meanwhile, in college backetball, the Carolinas prevailed, North in men’s and South in women’s. Entering an afternoon game in Detroit, the Red Sox are 2-0 with a rainout. Somebody is undoubtedly leading the Masters, even as these words are written. Rapid Roy and all the Stock Car Boys are roaring about deep in the heart of Texas.

I’ve got a rerun of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on.

(Steven Novak design)

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Lightning in a Bottle is the story of Barrie Jarman, the hope of stock car racing’s future. Barrie, a 18-year-old from Spartanburg, South Carolina, is both typical of his generation and a throwback to the sport’s glory days.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

 

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

 

The Big Surprise Is Here

(Cover Art by Steven Novak)

 

By Monte Dutton

This blog is a news release. I’m sending it out to many people. Why am I making it available to you? Perhaps you have news to disseminate. Perhaps you have a blog. Perhaps you follow mine. Perhaps you are on social media. Perhaps you like reading. Perhaps you like fiction. Perhaps you like motorsports. Perhaps you can help me spread the word in some form, via reviews and references and shares and follows.

I hope you will consider giving me a little help. I’ve got a lot riding on this sixth novel of mine.

 

MONTE DUTTON’S NEW NOVEL TAKES STOCK CAR RACING BY STORM

The secret is out. It’s an April Fool’s prank. Only this one is real.

Many readers have requested it. It matches Monte Dutton’s generally acknowledged field of expertise. His sixth novel, Lightning in a Bottle, is about stock car racing.

Barrie Jarman is the hope of racing’s future because he is a link to its past.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

The teen-aged native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, is talented, articulate, intelligent, brash, and mischievous. To the image-conscious braintrust that runs the sport, Barrie is a wild Mustang – and, yes, he drives one – who must be broken.

Ain’t no way.

The yarn is told mostly through the narration of Uncle Charlie, a racing veteran who took in Barrie at age 16 and helped him get a shot at the big time. Only Charlie, it seems, can nudge Barrie in the right direction, and only Charlie knows when it’s time to get out of his way.

This novel, Dutton says, began as a shot in the dark. “I have another novel that is almost complete. One night in January, I was down in the dumps for a variety of reasons and had a sleepless night. Most of it was just brainstorming. Some of it I probably dreamed. I finally got up, gave up on sleeping, put some coffee on, and sat down to write the Prologue because I didn’t want to lose it.”

Writing the entire novel took less than three months. He finished it in two drafts. In the past, it took three. An editor agreed that it was ready.

Meanwhile, Dutton kept it a secret.

“That’s probably part of the reason I got it done so quickly,” he said. “I want this to be a complete surprise. Only three people know anything about it. One is the editor. Another is a close friend. The third is my mother.”

Until … now.

(Monte Dutton sketch)

Dutton crisscrossed America for 20 years, writing about automobile racing. After authoring several sports books, the Clinton, South Carolina, resident and Furman University graduate turned to fiction.

“I’ve had a really good March in sales,” he said. “At the beginning of the month, my worldwide author rank on Amazon was about 220,000, it was 14,000 the last time I looked. In literary fiction, I went from 7,294 to 573.

“That doesn’t mean I’m doing great, but it means that all the books are creating people who want to read the others. My social-media following is heavy on race fans. That’s why so many have expressed to me their desire to have me write a racing novel. I didn’t ever have a great aversion to it. I just needed a story that excited me. I just needed a sleepless night.”

Here’s a homemade video about the book.

Monte Dutton may be reached via email at duttonm@bellsouth.net or by phone at (704) 913-1143.

 

 

(Joe Font cover design)

FICTION BY MONTE DUTTON

The Audacity of Dope (2011)

The Intangibles (2013)

Crazy of Natural Causes (2015)

Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016)

Longer Songs: A Collection of Short Stories (2016)

Cowboys Come Home (2016)

Lightning in a Bottle (2017)

 

(Melanie Ryon cover design)

AUTHOR Q&A

What was the inspiration for Lightning in a Bottle?

“I guess I was doing the kind of off-season meditation that any fan goes through when the tracks are silent. I thought about how racing had changed during the twenty years I wrote about it. I thought about how much more colorful the big names – Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Darrell Waltrip – were back then. I thought, what would happen if a kid came along with the spirit and background of those guys? A kid with that old-time folksiness but the attitude of the present generation? My first thought was, ‘Why, they’d eat him alive,’ and away I went.”

Why no racing novels until now?

“I still write about it on a website and my own blog. Until recently, I wrote a weekly column at Bleacher Report. The commentary sort of filled my urge to write about racing. Besides, I wrote a number of non-fiction books about racing while on the beat. I was never averse to it. The first novel, The Audacity of Dope, was descended from a manuscript with a racing theme that I discarded.

“The simple truth is I didn’t have a story about racing that I loved until this one showed up one sleepless night.”

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Why do you think Lightning in a Bottle will sell?

“Where I’m concerned, sales is a relative term. Last year’s Forgive Us Our Trespasses is by far my biggest seller, and all of my novels are moving along. I think I’m gaining a reliable, loyal, if still relatively small, following.

“Now, racing fans are not widely known as voracious readers. The question is whether or not they will be interested in racing fiction. I think many of them will be, and they turn my promotional reach from bad to good. Of the roughly 10,000 people who follow me in various forms of social media – this figure accounts for the overlap, by the way — probably about 70 percent are interested in auto racing. They identify with me for my opinions about the sport more than my fiction and other interests. They know my views about the sport. They are sympathetic to my established views.

“I think – and my editor backs me up on this – the story will also be interesting to readers of both my other novels and other novels in general. Lightning in a Bottle has the same spirit, the same irreverence, the same frankness, as the first five. I don’t think you have to be a racing fan to enjoy it, and I hope I can get you to give it a try. Maybe expanding my novel to a wider audience will expose racing to a wider audience, but I wouldn’t pretend to have any such influence. I’m just a struggling author trying to make a buck.”

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

Why the secrecy?

“That’s why I self-published it. I didn’t even try to find a publisher. I didn’t want anyone to know about it. It’s quite a relief, getting this great secret, this great surprise, off my chest.

“I haven’t ever indicated that I would consider writing a novel about auto racing. It was an abrupt decision. I didn’t know I was doing it till I did it. I decided it ought to be a shocker. It was a shocker to me. Why not?

“Now it want it to take the racing world by surprise. I want it to have shock value. I want people to say, ‘Wow, look at this!’ and, maybe, ‘Holy #@*!’

How do you expect the book to be received?

“Some are going to love it. Some are going to be offended. What I hope everyone recognizes in Lightning in a Bottle is honesty. I have followed auto racing since I was seven years old. In all the time I’ve written about it, I’ve criticized it because I loved the sport, not because I hated it. I think my readers always got that, and I think they’ll get it now.

“I think Barrie Jarman is what stock car racing needs. That’s why I invented him.”

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Lightning in a Bottle, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written six novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

Cowboys Come Home is a modern western. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

 

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

 

 

The Winter Solstice of Our Content

winter-solstice-kindle-cover-copy-copy

 

I raced right through Winter Solstice, a compilation of short stories by Kindle Press authors.

Part of the reason I raced through was that two of the stories, “Strange Bedfellows” and “Chance Chills,” are mine. I’m lying. They were the first two I read. When an author reads stories he wrote, and he hasn’t thought about them since he submitted them, first it’s scary and then it’s a relief.

Who knew? My story ain’t half bad.

I’m certainly not objective about my own work, but my stories revisit characters in my two Kindle Press novels, Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) and Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2016).

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

“Chance Chills” takes Chance Benford back to Hollywood, where he appears on the TV show where Crazy of Natural Causes ended, two years earlier. Hal Kinley, the hero of Forgive Us Our Trespasses, runs for sheriff of Rollison County, and finds some unlikely support, in “Strange Bedfellows.”

If you read those novels, I expect you’ll enjoy catching up with characters you met there, and if you haven’t, I expect you might want to read the novels from which they sprung.

That, of course, is the plan. Not my plan. The plan mastermind is Lincoln Cole, who edited and compiled it. He and I are joined among the contributors by our colleagues Linda Cassidy Lewis, Jessica Knauss, Jacqueline Ward, Ann Omasta, Jada Ryker, Fiona Quinn, Katherine Hayton, and Teresa Roman.

Winter Solstice – you can download it for free here – is divided into sections: Romance; Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense; and Literature & Fiction. “Strange Bedfellows” is in the third section, and “Chance Chills” is the lone entry in the fourth.

I’m not that interested in all those genres, but I read every story and there wasn’t one I didn’t enjoy.

Besides, it’s free, and, so, what have you got to lose? Winter Solstice is perfect for knocking out one story while you’re eating out, alone, and need to kill some time before the nice lady brings the Tuesday Night Special, and if I don’t finish it, I read it before I pay the bill. It’s perfect for an airport layover, or for guys like me who are annoyingly punctual by nature, having nothing but friends who are fashionably late, and find themselves with a half hour to kill on a bench outside a ballgame, a table at a  coffee shop, or a waiting room where either themselves or their automobiles are being serviced.

I will read several books that were introduced to me in the pages of Winter Solstice. Wouldn’t it be something if others were similarly inspired by one of my submissions?

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Cowboys Come Home, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at montedutton.com. (montedutton.com/blog/merchandise)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written five novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

Crazy of Natural Causes is on Amazon sale all month for $.99.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

 

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001
(Design by Steven Novak)

Cowboys at Warp Speed

cowboyshome_fullcvr343-page-001

Every day has its ups and downs. Okay, not every day. It seems as if mine are seldom mediocre. Either everything goes right, or vice-versa.

This one has gone wildly erratic. Let’s highlight the positive, though.

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)
By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

My fifth novel, first western and second historical, is impending. Today I approved the proof. I’m delighted with the cover. I think readers are going to want this one in print if for no other reason because the cover, by Steven Novak, is perfect and beautiful. You’re going to want it on your shelves.

Two Marines, home from World War II in the Pacific, find more trouble when they get back to Texas.

If my first four novels were rated the way movies are, they’d be “R.” This one is probably “PG.” Violence. Some sexual content. Language. The characters’ language is less profane. I think it was that way in the 1940s. They don’t talk like sailors. They talk like Marines. And cowboys.

I can’t believe how rapid this self-publishing racket moves. I approved the print proof this morning. I prepared it for Kindle release this afternoon. I went out to run some errands and eat Chinese food. I got back home and fired up this laptop.

It was up for sale on Amazon! Print and Kindle! You can buy it now. Hell, I can buy it now. I want to see it in all its splendor.

More soon. This is all I can muster at the moment.

Buy this novel. You’ll love it. I’m liable to need a new set of tires here directly.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written four novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

 

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Spinning Supplemental Yarns

NASCAR used to take me to New Hampshire twice year. This is Alton Bay at the bottom of Lake Winnipesaukee. (Monte Dutton photos) (Monte Dutton photos)
NASCAR used to take me to New Hampshire twice year. This is Alton Bay at the bottom of Lake Winnipesaukee. (Monte Dutton photos)

It’s not just another Thursday. I’ve been writing for most of two days. Come to think of it, I’ve been writing all week. I’ve been writing all month. I’ve been writing my whole life. If I didn’t love writing, I’d be tired of it by now.

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)
By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

On Monday and Tuesday, I wrote about sports. Two NASCAR columns. Two football advances for Friday night – here’s the one that’s been posted – and a story about a local volleyball team. That left me open, sports-wise, until Friday night.

When this novel, my fifth, is released, I hope people buy the print version just because of this lovely cover. (Steven Novak design)
When this novel, my fifth, is released, I hope people buy the print version just because of this lovely cover.
(Steven Novak design)

As these words are written, the fate of my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home, is uncertain. I know it’s going to be published. I just don’t know yet whether it’s going to be published in Amazon’s KindleScout program, where Crazy of Natural Causes and Forgive Us Our Trespasses found an online home. It’s vastly different. It’s a whole new genre for me. I’m proud of it. I think it’s a ripsnorter. I don’t know Amazon’s position on ripsnorters. I don’t know if different is better.

Can’t please everybody. Just got to please yourself.

I sort of took Rick Nelson’s song, “Garden Party,” out of context. I conveniently omitted admission of whether or not I’m all right now and learned my lessons well. I’m supposed to do those first before I get to pass up pleasing everybody and pleasing yourself. That last part’s easy.

Apart from Amazon, we the KindleScout authors work together. We share links to one another’s books. One colleague put together a cookbook where many of us – I wrote about making hot wings the way I imagine Chance Benford of Crazy of Natural Causes would. It’s fared well, in no small part, I expect, because it’s a free download. Now another one is being compiled, a sequel. I’m not participating because I don’t see anyone yearning for knowledge on how to toast a bagel and smear cream cheese.

What I am participating in is the brainchild of another fellow novelist more enterprising than I. He has come up with another novel idea to promote our … novels. We’re writing short stories using characters who played prominent roles in our novels. I’ve written one with Benford, the protagonist of Crazy of Natural Causes, three years after the events of one novel, and today I’ve been taking Hal Kinley to the aftermath of Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I thought I was through with those two when I wrote the novels. The idea is to reinvigorate sales of the novels by writing additional tales about their most compelling characters.

It’s occurred to me, now that I’m almost done, that it would have been better to take up Benford and Kinley before the novels, not after. These short stories might reveal too much about the stories that preceded them.

Hindsight.

It has been fun, but it’s distracted me from other deadlines and commitments, and I’m going to have to do a lot of catching up in the next few weeks.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written four novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Most of my sports columns are at montedutton.com.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

 

The World’s Fastest Review Is Two Clicks Away

(Steven Novak design)
(Steven Novak design)

I don’t have a clue whether or not the KindleScout program will be interested in my fifth novel, Cowboys Come Home.

Two previous novels, Crazy of Natural Causes and Forgive Us Our Trespasses, have been selected by the Amazon program, so, as Bill Murray said in Caddyshack, I’ve got that going for me.

By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)
By Monte Dutton (John Clark photo)

On the other hand, Cowboys Come Home is a western, and I don’t know whether or not Amazon is interested in westerns. It’s interested in historical fiction, and my story of two cowboys coming home to Texas after serving in the Pacific during World War II is certainly that.

Ennis Middlebrooks and Harry Byerly do not expect to be embroiled once again in mayhem and disorder, but that’s what they find back in Janus, Ennis’s hometown. Oh, there’s an assassination. And a bank robbery. And a killer on the loose. And Ennis’s adventurous baby sister. And a Texas Ranger, Ned Lee Nelson. And a conspiracy to acquire the land on a closed Army base for oil exploration.

The novel begins on the island of Peleliu, where Ennis and Harry find themselves separated from the rest of their Marine unit. They manage to use their wits to survive. Then they return home as heroes, feted in parades and toasted by politicians, anxious to get back to what once was normality.

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

Nothing is the same. Ennis’s father succumbs to cancer. His mother moves into town to live with her sister. Harry becomes Ennis’s partner in the running of the family cattle farm. Thanks to a tip from the sheriff, Ennis manages to finagle a considerable part of the Camp Ammons land that Col. Evan Ainsworth Jr. and his scheming partner, Roman Walling, want for themselves.

The sheriff, Justin Lawson, doesn’t live much longer.

The above is supposed to make you want to read more. In order to maintain that possibility, I must go no further.

One aspect of the KindleScout program is reader appeal. The first stage of the process is displaying the book — cover, short synopsis, sample chapters, and author Q&A — for a month.

In other words, if my novel appeals to you, let Amazon know. Please examine my book here. Nominating requires no more than one more click after you click here.

Why did I write a western? It’s a complicated story, but mainly it was something new I wanted to try. I grew up around horses and cattle. I had family in Texas as a kid, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in recent years in the area of Texas on which Janus is based.

(Monte Dutton sketches)
(Monte Dutton sketches)

It’s markedly different from my first four novels: in order: The Audacity of Dope (2011), The Intangibles (2013), Crazy of Natural Causes (2015) and Forgive Us Our Trespasses (2015).

My theory is that westerns haven’t really become unpopular. They have modernized. The typical western might have been transformed into a space epic, or a confrontation between cops and robbers, or cops and drug dealers, or … cops and vampires, I guess.

Whether selected by KindleScout or not, it’s going to be published soon. I would like to have the advantage of Amazon’s marketing resources, which have not been massive but have been helpful. I would also like a modest amount of money up front, but money up front delays money coming in regularly until the book sells through the advance.

As is often said around here, “Six one, half dozen the other.” Amazon increases the likelihood of success, so I’d like to go that route again.

Please consider my book. If you nominate it — and Amazon selects it — you will receive an advance download for free. If you do not care for Kindle apps that enable you to read books on many electronic devices, a print version will also be released. They have the advantage of being autographable, plus, with an author of my modest renown, autographs are absolutely free.

 

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written four novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.

Most of my sports columns are at montedutton.com.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

Coming soon: My fifth novel, a modern western, Cowboys Come Home.

 

News-Free Love

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

I haven’t written enough short stories recently. This one could wind up as the beginning of a novel.

Fortunately, by nature, Jordie Smithson was annoyingly early. He always allowed for disaster. A traffic jam on the way to the airport, for instance. On this Monday, the traffic jam was on the way to the office. He had time. For once, his silly punctuality was going to be beneficial. Jordie spent too much time sitting on a bench in a rental-car center, thumbing through his Twitter feed or reading a book on his phone while waiting for one of his friends who was fashionably late.

He savored the finer things in life.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

Jordie was strangely relaxed. The backup on I-85 was unavoidable. Why worry about what cannot be changed? He turned up the music and picked up his harmonica and jammed along. Occasionally, he glanced across at the people nearby, all red-faced and sweaty, not because their vehicles weren’t equipped with air conditioners but because they were consumed in stress. It was self-inflicted.

Shit like that’ll kill you, man. He hoped, when they peered back to exchange the glances, they thought him crazy. Crazy was okay. Jordie preferred to think of himself as irreverent. It served him well in his job.

When he pulled into the parking lot, his spot was taken. Son of a bitch. It was understandable, though. Jordie only rarely stopped by. Maybe taking his spot gave some kid straight out of college a shorter walk when he got off at one in the morning.

He swiped his car at the side door. What? Red? Now he was going to have to walk around the building, but he was going to have to do that, anyway, to get the card recoded. He banged on the door a couple times and walked away. Three steps down and one foot on the sidewalk, he heard it swing open.

“Thanks,” he said to some guy wearing coveralls who’d probably heard him while he was having a pack of Toastchees in the break room.

“Don’t mention it.”

The newsroom was getting ready to get busy. Half the people were sitting in front of desktops. The other half were leaning over wrap-around desks, chatting to the people sitting behind the desktops. As Jordie walked through the newsroom, the voices slowly quieted. He saw the people behind desks tilting their heads in his direction, signaling the visitors to cool it.

Uh, oh. No good can come of this.

The last time Jordie had seen a hush fall over the entire newsroom, it wasn’t because one person walked in. Maybe it happened when a celebrity stopped by. Jordie didn’t know. He’d never been there when that happened. No. It was like this the day management announced furloughs. Everyone went quiet and depressed, but then some started musing the benefits of being relentlessly upbeat “associates,” and others rationalized that it could be worst, but only Jordie had resisted being steamrolled by counterintuitive optimism. The Human Resources Coordinator — hers was a proper name, while his was strictly little “c” — had told all the panting faces that they were fortunate to have to take two weeks of unpaid leave because it was better than a pay cut, and Jordie had raised his hand to point out that, across a period of a year, it was slightly worse. Inexplicably, this had seemed to make him unpopular among his peers, at least until they were out of the room.

So, Jordie reasoned, this was bad.

It couldn’t be that bad, though. Just yesterday, he had been watching David Ortiz hit a home run, a single, and two doubles, and the latter double might have been a triple, and the cycle, had not the ball hit the top of a cushion and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. It had made him feel young again, or, at least, younger than David Ortiz.

Theoretically, following his customized pattern of life, Jordie should be on a hot streak for at least one more day. Probably two.

He pulled up a chair in the sports editor’s cubicle. They had a brief, uncomfortable “boy, those Braves sure do suck” conversation, and then it died when the sports editor said “we sure could use some rain.”

(Monte Dutton sketch)
(Monte Dutton sketch)

Then the EE — that’s Executive Editor, not a row in the lower grandstands — rang the sports editor, and he grabbed the receiver hurriedly so that “speaker” wasn’t on, and talked real low, ended it with a hushed “okay,” turned to Jordie and, “Well, Carson’s ready, Shall we go?”

Jordie said something profound like “I reckon so,” and off they strolled, the sports editor — his name was Jonathan this year, Seth the year before, and he couldn’t remember the one before that — trying and failing to look relaxed.

Still, Jordie was guardedly optimistic that it might be a cutback in his schedule, or maybe they wanted him to write a feature column on Tuesdays, or switch to another beat, or, horror of horrors, fill in with Legion baseball. All had happened before in sixteen years, six months, and four days at the News-Free Press, which had been the paper’s name since the News merged with the Free Press, and no one in charge had any sense of irony.

The optimism crashed with the force of a Pinto, horse or car, into an oak tree, when Jordie noticed the presence of the Human Resources Coordinator, wearing the kind of smug expression one wears when secretly enjoying the dismissal of the smart guy who was always making smart-alecky questions in her required presentations.

Jordie thought the black cloak and glistening scythe made her look hot. Alluringly evil. He was already cascading into the waterfalls of absurdity that accompany the exhilarating freedom of disaster.

Not even Cold, Cold Carson, of whom it was said a cash register should be played at her funeral, had much enthusiasm for the execution. She shuffled her shoulders — “You know, we both knew this was coming,” and Jordie said, “No, we didn’t know. No one warned one of us” — and tried to look empathic as, behind her steely-gray eyes, math was being quickly completed to indicate the progress toward a $5,000 bonus that would be achieved with just one more mercy killing.

Jonathan the Boy Wonder Sports Editor, who would undoubtedly soon be shipped off to be managing editor at an even smaller paper, just like Seth last year and whatsisname the year before, was, by then, long gone, undoubtedly back at his desk whispering to someone about how painful this was.

Jordan had been toying with the idea of quitting and trying to make it as a free lancer. Part of his deal with the News-Free Press had been the freedom to write books, and on-line columns, and magazine pieces. As a result, he had never quibbled much about salary, even back in the days when money was still negotiable. They let him alone, and he let them alone. What had stopped him was revenue sharing, and the 401-K, and health insurance that got only mildly worse each year.

He’d thought about it, most often when frustrations with management mounted, but he didn’t have the guts actually to take the leap of faith. Now his hands were being forced instantaneously. It was June the seventh, and the HRC was now telling him his final day was … June the seventh.

“How convenient,” Jordie said.

“I thought so,” Jalene the 26-year-old HRC (proper name!) said, failing to get the joke.

Carson excused herself. She almost offered Jordie her hand, but then she shivered a little because she realized he might leave it hanging, so she put it in her pocket. She was wearing pants, undoubtedly because she took pride in wearing the pants of the family … newspaper.

“So I don’t have to write a column tomorrow?” Jordie was overflowing with the type of one-liners that fit so well in a column.

“Uh, no.”

“Cool.”

Jalene, in spite of her relative youth, was already well-schooled in the subtle art of head-lopping. She explained an absurdly modest severance package as if it were some arcane, legal form of embezzlement. She provided detailed and easily understandable instructions on how one would go about filing for unemployment. She had him sign his career away in a variety of convenient ways.

When it was over, Jalene sighed and asked if he had any questions.

Jordie stared at her directly.

“I really think you’re hot,” he said. “Are you married? I am, but not for long after today.”

Jordie left wondering if it was technically possible to be reprimanded for sexual harassment after one’s employment had been terminated. Oh, well. He had no need to worry. He was fairly sure his permanent record had just been permanently sealed.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

                My new novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is a small-town crime thriller about the corrosive effect of patronage, not to mention drugs, sex, corruption, a father and a son, and spoiled kids who are as out of control as their monstrous father.

                Crazy of Natural Causes is about a Kentucky football coach who manages to rebuild and reinvent himself by dealing with absurdity on its own terms.

(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

                Longer Songs is a collection of eleven short stories, all derived from songs I’ve written.

                The Intangibles is a story of the South during the 1960s, dealing naturally with bigotry, desegregation, civil rights, and high school football.

                The Audacity of Dope is the story of a pot-smoking songwriter leading government operatives on a sometimes merry, sometimes dangerous, chase.

                Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (more from the writer’s perspective), and/or @wastedpilgrim (irreverence stressed). I’m on Facebook at Monte.Dutton.